Sunderland 0-2 QPR
Barclays Premier League
Tuesday 10th February 2015
Queens Park Rangers finally ended their search for a Premier League away win as first half goals from Leroy Fer and Bobby Zamora ensured they made Sunderland pay for a meak display at the Stadium of Light. The win ends a run that has lasted twelve games but it was reward for a gritty, determined and most of all confident display that would have delighted the R’s stand in Head Coach Chris Ramsey.
The two sides started the game in a manner that belied their recent form with the hosts struggling to keep possession and the visitors looking the more confident side on the ball. The R’s forced a couple of early corners that led to nothing while the ever popular Joey Barton sent a twenty yard effort well over Costel Pantilimon’s crossbar, whilst receiving a chorus of boos as the home supporters reminding him of his spell with local rivals Newcastle United.
After an opening spell of frustration Gus Poyet’s side created their first chance on twelve minutes. A cross from the right from full back Anthony Reveillere beat everyone in the box and fell to the onrushing Patrick Van Aanholt. However the former Chelsea full back could only send his first time volley over the bar from around twelve yards out.
The visitors took the lead on seventeen minutes with a clinical finish from Dutch international Leroy Fer. A wicked cross from the right from Matt Phillips was met by the head of Fer from around twelve yards and he left Pantilimon grasping a thin air as his effort nestled in the bottom right hand corner of the Romanian’s net.
That lead was almost doubled on twenty six minutes as a wonderful crossfield pass from Niko Kranjcar released the dangerous Phillips in on goal. However the was denied by the alert goalkeeping of Pantilimon as the giant Black Cats number one rushed from his line to clear the ball ahead of former Blackpool winger Phillips.
A lack of urgency from the home side, coupled with a dominance in possession from their visitors, led to frustration enveloping the Stadium of Light. That was intensified as Fer found a yard of space in the box and sent a low drive against the far post before Isla was correctly given offside on the rebound.
Sunderland could and should have been on level terms within minutes of that let-off. Jermain Defoe was given the sort of chance that he had made his name upon as he met a cross from the left but could only flick agonisingly wide under pressure from Rangers keeper Robert Green.
The former England stopper was at the heart of the action again on thirty five minutes with a breathtaking stop to deny Connor Wickham. Adam Johnson’s high, hanging cross from the left was met by the head of Wickham and with the Stadium of Light ready to erupt, Green instinctively parried the effort on to the bar before it was scrambled to safety.
That led to yet more frustration for an increasingly vocal home support as they screamed in vain for a goal but replays confirmed that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.
Those dissenting voices became even louder as Rangers doubled their lead with the half time whistle about to blow thanks to a sublime finish from Bobby Zamora. Not for the first time Matt Phillips was given to much time to cross from the right and that was met by a wonderful volley from Zamora as he smashed the ball past Pantilimon from fifteen yards to give his side a two goal lead at the interval.
Gustavo Poyet introduced Inter Milan loanee Ricardo Alvarez at the expense of Jordi Gomez at half time as he looked to inspire an unlikely looking comeback given the abject nature of his side’s performance in the first half.
It was Alvarez who had the first chance of the second half, although the Stadium of Light had to wait until just before the hour mark to witness a twenty yard effort dribble meakly into the hands of Green, a moment that summed up the performance of Poyet’s side so far.
However there was a more positive chance for the home side on sixty six minutes and the came courtesy of a wonderful cross from the left from Adam Johnson. Defoe was the recipient but he was frustrated by an instinctive save from his former England team mate Robert Green as he tipped the striker’s flicked effort away from goal.
That chance raised the noise levels of the home supporters and another chance came their way. This time it fell to Alvarez but it was all of his own doing as the winger again cut in from his right wing position and hit a low drive with more conviction than his earlier effort but was denied by a sprawling save from Green.
An injury to the impressive Leroy Fer saw the Dutch international replaced on seventy one minutes as he was replaced by Argentinian Mauro Zarate. That seemed to cause the visitors to lose a bit of their composure with the Black Cats looking to play on their brittle confidence.
Sunderland were awarded a dangerous looking free kick on the left hand touchline as Johnson was pulled back by Barton. Sebastian Larsson stepped up to take it but his normally trusty right foot let him down as his cross sailed over a crowded box and harmlessly out for a Rangers goal kick.
The hosts kept up the pressure and penned Rangers back into their area. Alvarez found some space on the right and chose to ignore Wickham on the edge of the box much to the annoyance of the former Ipswich Town striker. Instead the Argentinean smashed a ball across the face of goal and it was cleared by Ferdinand.
An increasingly desperate looking Sunderland went more direct in their approach with Steven Fletcher brought off the bench at the expense of Wickham. His presence caused chaos in the Rangers area with two separate pleas for handball turned down by referee Martin Atkinson. Rio Ferdinand and Suk-Young Yun were the culprits but the official waved away vociferous appeals from the majority of those inside the Stadium of Light.
With full time approaching the visitors grew in belief, sensing that an away win was finally theirs for the taking. The experience of Ferdinand, Barton and Zamora came to the fore as they sensibly kept possession with their opponents in red and white chasing shadows at times.
As referee Atkinson finally ended proceedings after five minutes of injury time, he did so to the soundtrack of a chorus of derision from the home supporters.
A small but nonetheless delighted sound of appreciation rang from a hardy band of Rangers supporters, grateful in the knowledge that they could face a long trip home having finally seen their side get three points on the road.
Sunderland (4-5-1): Pantilimon, Van Aanholt, Bridcutt, Larsson, Wickham (Fletcher 82), Johnson, Gomez (Alvarez 45), Reveillere (Brown 63), O’Shea, Vergini, Defoe Subs not used: Mannone, Graham, Coates, Agnew Goals:
Queens Park Rangers (4-4-1-1): Green, Caulker, Ferdinand, Phillips (Wright Phillips 50), Barton, Fer (Zarate 71), Yun, Isla (Doughty 86), Kranjcar, Henry, Zamora Subs not used: McCarthy, Traore, Hill, Taarabt, Goals: Fer 17, Zamora 45+1
Man of the Match: Bobby Zamora
Referee: Martin Atkinson